Causes of Pressure Sores
Pressure sores are almost always caused by chronic trauma to a dog’s skin and subcutaneous tissue as a result of lying on hard surfaces for prolonged periods of time. Pressure sores are common in domestic dogs, especially in large, heavy or giant-breed dogs and those that are kenneled on cement floors without soft, well-padded bedding. Long-term pressure on an area of the body where the bone and skin are thinly separated compresses the blood vessels and decreases the blood supply to the area, which in turn causes tissue damage and, ultimately, tissue death (necrosis), calluses and hygromas. The elbow is probably the most common site of pressure sores, although they also frequently occur on the hips, hocks and sides of the legs.
Prevention of Pressure Sores
The best way to prevent pressure sores is to provide dogs with lofty, well-padded bedding in all areas where they regularly rest. Dogs that are recumbent for medical reasons are especially at risk of developing pressure sores. They should be given very soft, thick, well-padded beds to lie on; egg crate foam, thick foam rubber, waterbeds or inflatable airbeds are all good options. Recumbent dogs should be physically turned (have their position changed) every 2 to 3 hours, to prevent concentrated pressure on their elbows, hocks, hips and other thin-skinned bony areas. Massage, hydrotherapy and other forms of physical therapy can be helpful by stimulating blood circulation to affected sites.
Pressure sores are common in companion dogs. The highest incidence is seen in large and giant breeds and dogs who are crated or otherwise forced to lie down for extended periods of time.